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What’s on London visits the Cake and Bake Show: Preview

| Restaurants, Special Events | 23/09/2015

The Cake and Bake Show 2015
The Cake and Bake Show 2015

It’s official baking fever has taken over the country, and this year’s Cake and Bake Show at the London Excel Centre aims to showcase our best baking talents. The Cake & Bake Show, the UK’s biggest baking show announces for the first time a Great British Bake Off Live Stage at this year’s shows, where visitors will be able to see contestants from the current series as well as former champions Edd Kimber, Jo Wheatley and John Whaite whip up an array of sweet treats LIVE on stage!

This year What’s on London will provide you with an in-depth review of the Cake and Bake show. But to whet your appetite on what will be a great bakery weekend, here’s a Q&A and an exclusive recipe from the Great British Bake-Off’s 2012 champion John Whaite.

Q&A with John Whaite

He can’t wait to get demonstrating at this year’s Cake and Bake Show – it’s John Whaite!

You have a law degree and you’d worked in banking. Do you ever wonder what you would be doing now if you hadn’t done Bake Off?

I do sometimes, yes. I think I’d probably be enjoying it and working hard but I just can’t imagine myself doing that now. I couldn’t see myself choked by my tie in an office. Now I have the complete opposite to that: I work at home, never wear a tie, and I’m director of my own company. It’s weird how things work out – I do consider myself very lucky indeed, but I do work hard at this career.

You’re about to open a cookery school in the Lancashire countryside aren’t you?

Yes, we’re hoping to open in mid November. The location is a converted 400-year-old barn on the family farm where I grew up. It’s very poignant for me because it’s a real family affair, we’ve all created it together. My brother-in-law helped me pull walls down and clear the barn out, and my sister is going to be the washer upper! I’ll probably be heading up north every weekend for classes and then if I I’m teaching during the week I’ll stay up in my old bedroom. It’s like regressing – going back to my roots – but I love being around my family.

You enjoy demonstrating at The Cake and Bake Show don’t you?

I love the demonstrations. I used to do drama and dance and stuff – I’ve always been a bit of a performer – but in demonstration it’s a two-way process. Not only can you get a buzz from the crowd, but the audience can learn a great deal from you, too. That’s what’s great about it; it’s not just about me going and stage and having a laugh and a giggle, it’s about me sharing a passion with two or three hundred other people. That’s the biggest buzz there is.

Last book was the best-selling John Whaite Bakes at Home. Do you enjoy trying out new recipes for the books?

Yes, but it’s the photography I really like. We’ve got a really great team with the designer, the photographer and the home economist. We spend a week in this little studio in Acton, all eating pizzas for lunch and drinking beers, it’s so chilled. And then you see you recipes materialize as pages of a book and that’s the most rewarding thing. It’s such a proud moment.

Right now I’m working on my third book which is a general cookery book – but of course there’ll be a load of baking recipes in there, too. It’s one of my favourite things to do, because once the manic rush to get recipes tested is over, it’s just me, my music and my laptop, and I can work from anywhere I feel comfortable – usually propped up against coffee-shop counter, contemplating a croissant.

What are you making of the Great British Bake Off this year? Have you spotted any new stars?

I love it! I love all of them, but I particularly loved Sandy (sadly evicted) because she was just hilarious.


Favourite smell
Tom Ford Oud Wood.
It has a cardamom note, so that may be why I like it.

Favourite breakfast
My breakfast burrito – a tortilla with an omelette full of chorizo and baked beans

Favourite flower
Peonies, ranunculus and yellow roses.

Favourite cooking ingredient

Favourite dish
Lamb tagine – it’s sticky and gratifying

Favourite holiday destination
Paris or USA

Favourite drink
A proper margarita – no triple sec, just tequila, agave nectar and lime juice.

Favourite soup
Stilton and potato

Favourite TV show
The Great British Bake Off

Lemon Sherbet Cake: A recipe by John Whaite

Lemon Sherbert Cake. Photo credit Matt Russel.

Lemon Sherbert Cake. Photo credit Matt Russel.

The word ‘sherbet’ evokes memories of youth, but, ironically, I disliked sherbet as a child – I was a kid who needed a more toothsome, chewy sort of jelly sweet. This cake is perfect for baking with children, because the cake batter uses a ‘one mix’ method, so there is no need to go through the stages of making a cake, which can sometimes tire fickle little kids. And though it’s a simple cake to make, with a simple filling, the presentation takes it up a notch. This cake is a nod to all things youthful, but it is also absolutely acceptable at a sophisticated, child-free gathering.

Ingredients – serves 10/12

For the candied lemon topping
• 2 lemons
• 600ml water (in batches of 200ml)
• 100g sugar
• 100ml water
• 75g golden caster sugar

For the cake
• Zest of 3 lemons
• 4 eggs
• 225g golden caster sugar
• 225g stork
• 225g self-raising flour
• 1 tsp baking powder

For the filling
• 400ml whipping cream
• 500g mascarpone cheese
• 300g icing sugar
• Zest of 2 lemons
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• 2 packets of lemon Dip Dabs (sherbet only)
• Icing sugar, to dust

Essential equipment
• Two 20cm/8-inch loose- bottomed round cake tins, greased and lined with baking paper
• Cake stand at least 20cm/ 8 inches across
• Disposable piping bag fitted with 12mm nozzle


For the lemon topping, use a potato peeler to pare thick strips of peel from the lemons – if you get any white pith, scrape it off with a knife. Chop the lemon peel into thin matchsticks, then place in a small saucepan with 200ml water. Bring to the boil, then drain the water, place the lemon zest back into the pan with another 200ml water and repeat. Drain again then repeat – you should bring the lemon zest to the boil 3 times in total. Set the drained lemon zest matchsticks aside. Place the 100g sugar and 100ml water in the saucepan and bring to the boil until the sugar is dissolved, then return the lemon zest and allow to poach for about 5 minutes. Drain. Place the 75g caster sugar in a bowl and add the lemon matchsticks. Toss in the sugar then arrange on a baking sheet and allow to dry out for a few hours (overnight is better).

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4.

Place the ingredients for the cake into a mixing bowl and beat together until well incorporated and smooth. If you have a freestanding electric mixer, use the paddle attachment. Divide the batter between the two prepared tins, and bake for 20–25 minutes, or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, before removing from the tins and turning on to a cooling rack until completely cold.

Meanwhile, make the filling by whipping the cream to very soft floppy peaks. Fold this into the mascarpone along with the sifted icing sugar and lemon zest until smooth. Then quickly beat in the lemon juice – though don’t overbeat, as you don’t want the mixture to split.

When the cake is cooled, and the candied lemon is dry, slice each cake in half horizontally so that you have four layers. Place one on the cake stand. Fill the piping bag with the filling and pipe little blobs around the edge of the cake, then a spiral of filling in the centre. Sprinkle over a third of the sherbet, then top with another slice of cake. Repeat this until you have four layers of cake and three layers of cream and sherbet. Sift a layer of icing sugar over the top, then scatter over the candied lemon matchsticks.

Keep tuned for our review of the 2015 Cake and Bake Show!

Sandip Kana | @sandipkana

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